Motorists continue to see slow declines at the fuel pump

Staff Reports • Updated Feb 10, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Motorists continue to see a slow decline in prices at the pump last week. 

Sunday’s national average price for regular unleaded gasoline was $2.272 per gallon, which was fractions of a penny less than one week prior, 9 cents less than one month ago and 51 cents more per gallon year-over-year.

“Increased domestic oil production and low seasonal demand continue to push gas prices lower,” said Josh Carrasco, spokesman for AAA. “Oil and gas inventories are above-average for this time of year, which should continue to keep downward pressure on pump prices in the short term.”

According to Energy Information Administration reports, crude inventories increased by 6.5 million barrels and gasoline inventories rose by 3.9 million barrels, which are historically above the norm for this time of year. Prices at the pump are expected to remain relatively stable to round out the winter.  

However, motorists should expect gasoline prices to increase in the spring as demand increases and refineries switch to summer-blend fuels. Industry analysts expect gas prices will likely rise to an average of $2.50 to $2.80 per gallon in the spring. Nationally, the EIA expects gas prices to average $2.38 in 2017, which is 23 cents higher than the 2016 average. 

Oil prices inched higher last week as a result of reports that OPEC and non-OPEC countries are following through on their plans to reduce production. Crude oil posted gains Friday following positive reports of OPEC’s January production cuts. 

According to a recent Reuters survey, OPEC oil production declined by 1 million barrels per day, to a total of 32.3 million barrels per day in January, suggesting the oil cartel obtained 80 percent its production cuts agreed to late last year. 

Traders will continue to keep an eye on OPEC’s production cuts and the response of U.S. companies. At the closing of Friday’s formal trading session on the New York Mercantile Exchange, West Texas Intermediate crude oil was up 29 cents to settle at $53.83 per barrel.

Tennessee gas prices trended downward for 17 consecutive days, falling 6 cents during that time. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $2.064, which was 1 cent cheaper than one week ago, 8 cents lower than a month ago and 48 cents more expensive than last year. The lowest regional averages in the state were in Chattanooga at $1.996, Knoxville at $2.01 and Clarksville-Hopkinsville at $2.04.

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